The 15 Best PS1 RPG Games of All Time

The origins of modern RPGs.

Milan Zagorac
Milan Zagorac
11 Min Read

RPG games were the bread and butter of the PlayStation 1. With Sony honing in on the Final Fantasy franchise and really doubling down on introducing endless hours of gameplay, the PS1 has a lot of cult classic RPG games that are hard to miss.

With the PS1 lasting 12 years, developers had ample time to make the most out of the system, which leads to us listing down the 15 best PS1 RPG games of all time.


Chrono Cross

Chrono Cross is among the best PS1 RPG games of all time.

Release Date: 1999
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square/Square Electronic Arts

Chrono Cross is a game that successfully built upon its popular predecessor, Chrono Trigger. That was a monumental task, one that resulted in an RPG that can be considered among the best ones on the PlayStation.

The story twists and turns and is mind-boggling at times, but it is well worth playing and replaying. As an RPG, it isn’t the easiest game, though the challenges will most likely not be combat-related.


Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX is an amazing RPG, often outshadowed by FF VII.

Release Date: 2000
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square/Square Electronic Arts

Some would consider FF VII the best PS1 RPG, though I would argue that it is among the best PS1 games in general. (link to best PS1 games article) Unlike its three predecessors, FF IX departs from the futuristic setting and goes back in time to a more common medieval setting.

It follows the story of Princess Garnet, Zidane, Steiner, Vivi, and more characters, as they battle soulless mages, among other things. Nobuo Uematsu composed the game’s music, which sets the mood accordingly.



Xenogears is a unique RPG with elements not found in other games of the time.

Release Date: 1998
Developer: Square Product Development Division 3
Publisher: Squaresoft/Square Electronic Arts

Xenogears takes the standard Active Time Combat found in other Square games such as Chrono Trigger and adds more elements, such as gears. Those would be giant robots that exchange action points for fuel.

The game starts us off in a village with an adopted protagonist with a mysterious past, Fei Fong Wong. As things burst into flames and he gets thrown into an adventure, we start to unravel his story and understand more about the world and our protagonist.


Breath of Fire III

Breath of Fire III is a great RPG, one that will always stand out when it comes to PS1 RPGs.

Release Date: 1997
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom/Infogrames

Breath of Fire is a series and the third game stands out from the rest. Most would consider it the best in the series though the rest are also entertaining, to say the least. It has standard gameplay of fighting and advancing the story through battles.

What stands out is the story and the world. Ryu is the protagonist, a being who can transform into a dragon, though not always when he wants to. Accompanied by a great soundtrack, Breath of Fire III is a must-play.


The Legend of Dragoon

The Legend of Dragoon, showing one of the first battle scenes in the game.

Release Date: 1999
Developer: Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

The gameplay features an overview map, linear 3D maps of towns and villages, as well as a battle screen. The battle plays out with a party of three, each character attacking during their turn. They can also turn into a Dragoon after a while if they meet the requirements.

Set in a medieval world called Endiness, we follow Dart who is immediately attacked by a dragon, only to be saved by Rosa. With his town destroyed, and his friend captured, Dart embarks on an adventure, like every good protagonist.



Koudelka is a RPG and horror game, not a combination of genres you find often.

Release Date: 1999
Developer: Sacnoth
Publisher: SNK/Infogrames

Koudelka differs from other RPGs in its setting, mainly. Instead of an entire world, we get a mansion, Nemeton. It is full of puzzles, creatures, and secrets to discover. We pilot the eponymous Koudelka Iasant, a Romani psychic.

The game starts us off with a battle, which is to the point and without much exposition. The battles are turn-based and there is a lot of exploration, in a 3D pre-rendered world, much like another similar, non-RPG series, Resident Evil.


Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu

Jade Cocoon is a title that you must play if you enjoy classic RPG games.

Release Date: 1998
Developer: Genki
Publisher: Genki/Crave Entertainment

We have a prophecy and forests full of monsters called minions or Divine Beasts. We also have Cocoon Masters, who have to capture the monsters and tame them, using them for armor, defense, or offense.

Levant is on his way to becoming a cocoon master but his hometown of Syrus gets attacked. He has a long journey ahead, though he is not alone, for his wife and companions met on the road, are there to make the quests easier.



Suikoden is one of the best PS1 RPG games of its time, with a compelling story.

Release Date: 1995
Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo
Publisher: Konami

Suikoden plays like a traditional RPG game of the time, with turn-based combat and overworld exploration. In 2D, you can move around maps and eventually advance the story through quests, which may include battles.

The protagonist, known as Tir, joins the army and upon completing some missions, there is a lot of corruption in the government. That leads the hero to a rebellion, and as you expect, it is far from just the military that he has to battle. 



Grandia is a fun RPG title, as shown by this image.

Release Date: 1997
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: Entertainment Software Publishing/Sony/Ubisoft

We follow the story of Justin, a young adventurer who discovers that there are great artifacts of power across the world. He sneaks away on a ship and the adventure starts almost immediately, with old and new friends, and lots of danger.

Grandia plays like a typical RPG, with a 3D map and 2D sprites traversing them. Combat takes place on a separate screen with an overhead, third-person view. Depending on who attacks whom first, either you or the enemy may get first strike.


Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile combines distinct gameplay elements to make a RPG worth replaying.

Release Date: 1999
Developer: tri-Ace
Publisher: Enix

This game combines a 3D platforming element where you explore, shoot, fly, and hunt for einherjar. If you come into contact with an unfrozen enemy, you enter a classic turn-based combat mode.

The game follows Lenneth, a valkyrie, who searches for einherjar, souls of dead warriors. Most of the game is spent doing quests and recruiting einherjar. The game had great success and was quickly enhanced and even remastered.


Parasite Eve

Parasite Eve is a legendary game and one of the best PS1 RPG games of all time.

Release Date: 1998
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square

Most Square games of the period, if not all of them, had unique combat mechanics. Parasite Eve plays more like a cinematic game than an RPG, though it has clear RPG elements. Overworld maps and random encounters are there.

We follow the shoes of rookie NYPD officer Aya Brea. Things escalate at the very start of the game as people start combusting. We soon learn the name of the titular antagonist and that the whole of New York is in danger.


Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story combines platformer and RPG gameplay in a successful fashion.

Release Date: 2000
Developer: Square Product Development Division 4
Publisher: Square

RPGs were all similar with shops, quests, and NPCs to interact with. Vagrant Story takes a more action-oriented approach. Crafting and modifications are the primary ways of getting better gear, not including looting.

We follow Ashley Riot, a knight who traverses the catacombs of Lea Monde. Solving puzzles, jumping, and running will remind people of platformers. Add gear modification and level ups and you get an interesting combination and a great game. 


Brave Fencer Musashi

Musashi wielding his Fusion sword, battling some of the first enemies in this PS1 RPG.

Release Date: 1998
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square

Brave Fencer Musahi is an action RPG that is played from an overhead perspective in a 3D-like world. Musashi is a boy reincarnated from the titular brave fencer, who saved the kingdom of Allucaneet a century and a half before the game’s time.

Musashi is summoned there and given the sword Fusion, while also told to find the fencer’s legendary sword, Lumina. The goal of the game is basically to find scrolls that boost Lumina’s power, and of course, to save a kingdom. 


Vandal Hearts 

Vandal Hearts is RPG with a great story.

Release Date: 1996
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Vandal Hearts plays like a turn-based RPG. The battles take place on 3D fields with squares that characters stand on and move around on. Battles end either by eliminating all enemies or completing a specific objective.

The story is complex and follows Ash Lambert, a soldier in the Ishtarian Security Forces. As the story progresses, much of what was first shown will turn out otherwise, prompting Ash to action, which you should experience for yourself.


Wild Arms

Wild Arms shows us a way to succeed by making a great game, no matter the competition (FF VII).

Release Date: 1996
Developer: Media.Vision
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Even though it was highly contested in the media by Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms did very well. It plays like a traditional RPG, top-down, with random battles, quests, and level-ups. There is also a threat to the world, fitting for an RPG.

We follow the Dream Chasers, a trio of rebellious people, on a quest to find forbidden technology, called Ancient Relic Machines or ARMs. The protagonist, Rudy, can operate them and given the stakes, he had better master them quickly.

Whether on the original console, through a PS1 emulator, or if there are remasters available, RPG fans should play each of these titles at least once.

Many have their dedicated fan bases and you will likely find mods and enhancements that make already great games, even better.

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With over 1650 hours of Apex Legends, and 2100 of League of Legends, Milan is an avid gamer. When he's not indoors, he climbs mountains or does urban acrobatics. Add a passion for writing to the mix and you get a hopefully interesting broth.
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